Counting absentee mail-in ballots in Onslow County


JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Onslow County election workers are getting a head start on counting ballots for the November 3rd election.

Workers started counting about 800-absentee ballots sent in, the first of many batches to come.

9OYS tagged along during the county’s board of elections meeting Tuesday night to see how it’s not about the candidates, but to determine how many votes have been cast, not how the person voted.

It begins with five election board members. They’re at the forefront of counting Onslow County mail-in ballots.

“At each table there was one Democrat, one Republican and at the other table one Democrat, one Republican and the chairman was overseeing it all,” said Jason Dedmond, Onslow County’s board of elections director.

Each team of workers goes through each ballot, verifying a signature from the voter, and the witness information.

Two stamps marks from board members will indicate the envelope is approved.

The chairman or Dedmond will then place it on the letter opener machine. One employee will remove the mail-in ballot from the envelope, another worker will straighten it.

The county’s election equipment machines then scans the ballots and will give you the green light, once the vote is counted.

Sometimes irregularities can be found, like the one during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Two ballots were sent in the same envelope. Elections workers determined it was two voters, but not approved because it was in the same envelope. In that case, “they’ll have the option to early vote, vote on Election Day, or we still have time to
mail them a new ballot,” said Dedmond. The local elections office will make a call to the voter letting them know.

Other times, board members can find an easy-fix. For example, a small tear on a ballot when opened. Workers would get a new ballot form, and then board members would take how the person voted and transpose it on to a good ballot.

“They would have one Democrat, one Republican, and they would fill it out, and both agree and we’ll take it over and take the one they fixed,” said Dedmond.

Dedmond reminds people there must be a witness signature if a voter sends in an absentee ballot.

To keep up with the high volume of absentee ballots, they’re holding bi-weekly meetings, to make sure ballots like in Tuesday night’s meeting are included in the current numbers.

All the votes will be tallied on Election Day.

The board meets every Tuesday and Thursday to count how many absentee ballots they’re receiving.

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